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  • Writer's pictureVinnie Favale

Fellini, Psychics And The After Life

Fellini's memorial service at Cinecitta.

This year started out as a celebration of Federcio Fellini’s 100th birthday. Festivals were planned all over the world to screen his classic films. Concerts celebrating the memorable music that Nino Rota created for Fellini’s films were being scheduled and this very web site was launched to commemorate all of these wonderful activities…then Covid happened.

All Souls Day 1993

It was 17 years ago today, on Halloween (fittingly for this post) that Fellini left us. The news of his death touched the world, especially in Italy. The out pouring of grief in Rome was staggering with 15,000 people attending his funeral mass at St Mary of the Angels Basilkica alongside Fellini’s wife (and star of his films) Giulietta Masina.

The memorial service, in Studio 5 at Cinecittà, where Fellini shot most of his films, was attended by an estimated 70,000 people. At Giulietta’s request, trumpeter Mauro Maur played Nino Rota’s “Improvviso dell’Angelo” during the ceremony.

Looking at the pictures and the video of the memorial in Rome and Cinecitta, you can’t help but feel that you are watching a Fellini film.

The black and white photos in the gallery below were shot by Jean-Calude Coutausse and they are stunning…some of them are so Fellini-esque that you might think they bare factual stills from one of his films.

There’s a wide eyed photo (below) of Giulietta that takes you right back to her appearance in “Nights Of Cabiria.”

Behind the coffin was an enormous sky-blue backdrop with painted clouds floating by (an homage to a very funny scene from Fellini’s “Intervista”.]

Music by Nino Rota, who composed the haunting and evocative scores for many of Fellini’s 20 feature films, played in the background as celebrities, fans and Italy’s premier filed past the coffin.

Marcello Mastroianni and Anita Ekberg, who co-starred in his 1960 classic “La Dolce Vita,” paid their respects to their mentor within minutes of each other at the Cinecitta studios where the film was made.

Ekberg, who played the buxom blond actress Sylvia in “La Dolce Vita,” sobbed behind dark glasses as she put a rose on Fellini’s coffin.

Four police honor guards, in ceremonial uniforms, stood at attention at the coffin. By late morning, some 3,000 people had filed by.

Clockwise; Giulietta Masina, Fellini memeorial at Cinecitta, Anita Ekberg, Marcello Marcello Mastroianni, Mourner with Federico sign, Mourner holding clapboard, Fellini family plot in Rimin Cemetery Rimini with monument [“La Grande Prua”] by ,Andrea Pomodoro.

After the memorial, Fellini was taken to his hometown of Rimini where he was buried in Rimini Cemetery. A monument by Andrea Pomodoro. "La Grande Prua", stands in remembrance of the great director. It's a sculpture in the form of a sail, a poetic image of death much in the vein of Fellini. Fellini once described the cemetery  as a "fascinating place because of its proximity to the stirring sight of the train".

Giulietta passed away six months later and is buried next to him along with their son Pierfederico who died at childbirth.

This is the documentary that was directed by Fellini's long time friend Sergio Zavoli. The film contains incredibly moving footage of Fellini's funeral in Rome and Cinecitta.

Zavoli was a highly regarded journalist who also was born in Rimini. He passed away this year (August 4th, 2020) and is buried next to the Fellini family.

Fellini In The After Life

So now it's 17 years after Fellini's passing and thanks to his incredible body of work, he is as relevant now as he was through his lifetime.

And even though Covid knocked the wind out of all the Fellini 100 celebrations this year, there's still a great deal to be excited including the new Criterion "Essential Fellini" collection which will release the majority of his films in 4k for the very first time.

Another exciting thing to look forward to is the release of "Fellini of the Spirits." This documentary takes a look at Fellini’s fascination with spirituality, religion, esoterica and astrology that stemmed initially from his encounter with Jungian psychoanalyst Ernst Bernhard who “had a huge influence” on him.

Here is the trailer [which is amazing] along with some clips I've put together from Fellini's film's that shine a light on his views on death, magic, spirits and mind readers!


"Voice Of The Moon" [1990] was Fellini's final film and this scene featuring Roberto Benigini is a beautiful little meditation on death.


"Intervista" [1987} was Fellini's most meta movie since "8 1/2". In this clip we meet Mandrake The Magician [Marcello Mastroianni] as he interrupts Fellini's production meeting (for the actual movie you are watching!) at Cinecitta.

You can read more about Fellini's fascination with Mandrake The Magician here.


Here's another clip from "Intervista" where watch as Mandrake The Magician [Marcello Mastroianni] dazzles Anita Ekberg with a heartbreakingly beautiful look back at their iconic Trevi Fountain scene from "La Dolce Vita" [1960.]


Fellini's "Juliet Of The Spirits" [1965] was his follow up to "8 1/2" [1964] and starred his wife Giulietta (Giulietta Masina) who grows suspicious of her husband, Giorgio (Mario Pisu), when his behavior grows increasingly questionable. One night when Giorgio initiates a seance amongst his friends, Giulietta gets in touch with spirits and learns more about herself and her painful past. Slightly skeptical, but intrigued, she visits a mystic who gives her more information -- and nudges her toward the realization that her husband is indeed a philanderer.


"8 1/2" [1963] was one of Fellini's most loved films and often sited as one of the greatest films of all time. This scene takes us in the mind of tortured film director Guido Anselmi [Marcello Mastroianni.] While sleeping after his tryst with his mistress Carla (Sandra Milo), Guido's mind takes him to an encounter with his late Father at his gravesite. Like most dreams which often defy immediate logic, Guido's producers make an appearance as well as his mother, whose tender kiss turns passionate as she transforms into his wife Luisa (Anouk Aimée.)


Here’s anotherscene from“8 1/2” [1963] that perfectly illustrates Fellini’s fascination with psychics. This scene perfectly illustrates Fellini's fascination with psychics. Tortured film director Guido Anselmi [Marcello Mastroianni] is reluctant to have his mind read and when he gives in it triggers memories from his childhood.


"Ginger e Fred" [1986] was Fellini's pointed look at the crass commercialization of Italian television. The film starred Giulietta Masina (as Ginger) and Marcello Mastroianni (as Fred) playing dancers once famous for their impersonations of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. They reunite to perform one last ballroom routine on the TV show "We Are Proud to Present." Now both show biz has-beens, Pippo and Amelia are billed alongside a veritable circus sideshow of dwarfs and celebrities. Soon the aging dancers take to the stage and transform the vulgar spectacle into a magical re-imagining of 1930s Hollywood. The scene featured here another example of Fellini's fascination of "the other side" and he beautifully gets to have it both ways with the couple on the bus sitting behind Ginger and Fred making the case for an afterlife with actual tape recordings of the spirits and an unimpressed Fred giving them "il corn" aka 'the horns.'


"Nights Of Cabiria" [1957] was Fellini's 7th film and the second to star his wife Giulietta Masina as Cabiria Ceccarelli. In this scene, Cabiria goes to a magic show, and the magician (Aldo Silvani) drags her up on stage and hypnotizes her. As the audience laughs, she acts out her desires to be married and live a happy life.


This is the perfect clip to end this memorial tribute to the Maestro Fellini. It's the final scene from a wonderful documentary of the great Italian film maker Federico Fellini; "How Strange to Be Named Federico" (Italian: Che strano chiamarsi Federico) is a 2013 documentary film directed by Ettore Scola. The film documents the director's relationship with his friend and inspiration, film director Federico Fellini. It begins with the 19-year-old Fellini arriving in Rome and walking into the office of the magazine Marc'Aurelio.

This clip recreates Fellini's memorial at Studio 5 in Cinecitta (filmed in the same place) and gives a beautiful, "what if" scenario the days events.


Fellini's Funeral Gallery


Fellini Spiritual Film Stills

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